Chronic dry eyes, also known as dry eye syndrome or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a condition where your eyes fail to produce enough tears for adequate lubrication, or the tears evaporate too quickly. This results in eyes that are constantly dry, irritated, and uncomfortable. The condition can affect anyone, but it is more common in older adults and women.
While chronic dry eyes may seem like a minor inconvenience, it's important to take it seriously. Without proper treatment, it can lead to eye inflammation, abrasion of the corneal surface, corneal ulcer, and in severe cases, vision loss. The good news is, there are several treatment options available.
Just like any other health condition, understanding the causes of chronic dry eyes is key to finding the right treatment. Dry eyes can be caused by a variety of factors, including age, gender, certain medical conditions, certain medications, environmental conditions, and more.
As we age, our bodies produce less tear fluid, which can lead to dry eyes. Women are more prone to dry eyes due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives, and menopause. Certain medical conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroid disorders can also cause dry eyes.
Some medications like antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, and certain blood pressure medicines can reduce tear production. Environmental conditions such as dry air, smoke, wind, and high altitude can cause tear evaporation, leading to dry eyes. Extended screen time without regular breaks can also contribute to this condition.
Chronic dry eyes can cause a wide range of symptoms. These can vary from person to person and may include a stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in your eyes, sensitivity to light, red eyes, blurred vision, and a feeling of having something in your eyes.
Some people with chronic dry eyes may experience difficulty wearing contact lenses or driving at night. Ironically, chronic dry eye can also cause watery eyes. This is because the dryness can trigger an overproduction of the watery component of your tears as a protective response.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms persistently, it's important to seek medical attention. Your eye care professional can perform tests to determine if you have chronic dry eyes and recommend the appropriate treatment.
Optase eye drops work by enhancing the three layers of the tear film - the aqueous, lipid, and mucin layers. The hyaluronic acid in Optase provides prolonged hydration and lubrication to the eye surface, alleviating the dryness and discomfort associated with chronic dry eyes.
In addition to providing immediate relief, regular use of Optase eye drops can help to heal the surface of the eyes and restore the natural balance of the tear film. This can significantly improve the symptoms of dry eye syndrome and enhance your overall eye health.
If LipiScan reveals that you have meibomian gland dysfunction, your eye care professional may recommend LipiFlow. LipiFlow is a thermal pulsation system that treats dry eyes by unblocking the meibomian glands and restoring their normal function.
The LipiFlow treatment process is fairly simple and takes about 12 minutes. The device applies controlled heat to the inner eyelids and gentle pressure to the outer eyelids. This helps to liquefy and remove the blockages in the meibomian glands, allowing them to resume their normal oil production.
Besides Optase eye drops and LipiFlow, there are other effective treatments for chronic dry eyes. Artificial tears are a common treatment option that provides temporary relief. They come in a variety of formulations, and your eye care professional can help you choose the one that suits you best.
In severe cases, procedures like punctal plugs, which block tear drainage, or special contact lenses that protect the surface of the eyes may be recommended.
The right treatment for chronic dry eyes depends on the underlying cause and severity of your symptoms. Always consult with your eye care professional before starting any new treatment.
Additionally, there are lifestyle changes you can make to manage chronic dry eyes. Drinking plenty of water can help maintain your body's natural moisture levels, including in your eyes. Taking regular breaks from screen time and practicing the 20-20-20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds) can also help.
Avoiding dry and windy environments, using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from wind and sun can also help reduce dry eye symptoms. Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and flaxseeds, can also promote eye health.
Living with chronic dry eyes can be challenging, but with the right treatment and lifestyle changes, you can manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life. Optase eye drops, and LipiFlow are just a few of the options available to help you overcome this condition.
Consult with your eye doctor to determine the best treatment plan for your specific needs. With their help, you can find relief from chronic dry eyes and get back to enjoying clear, comfortable vision.
For more information on how to get rid of chronic dry eyes, visit Keelan Eyecare at our office in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Our team of professionals is dedicated to giving our patients the highest quality of optometry care. Call or text (732) 458-4800 to discuss any questions with our team of experts or to schedule an appointment today.